Alexander Introduces Legislation To Delay Fishing Restrictions Below Dams

Thursday, February 21, 2013

At a press conference Thursday at Old Hickory Dam, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.) told a gathering of anglers and other community members that he will introduce legislation next week to delay the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ “unreasonable plan to restrict fishing below Cumberland River dams that will destroy remarkably good recreational opportunities and many jobs.”

“Water spills through the Cumberland River dams less than 20 percent of the time on average,” the senator said.

“To close off the tailwaters to fishing 100 percent of the time would be like keeping the gate down at the railroad crossing 100 percent of the time: The track isn't dangerous when the train isn’t coming, and the tailwaters aren’t dangerous when the water isn’t spilling through the dam.”   

Sen. Alexander said his legislation would require the Corps to conduct an environmental impact review before it could restrict public access to the fishing waters below 10 dams on the Cumberland River. The senator said this process would likely take more than a year and would include multiple comment periods, as well as give Congress time to determine if the funding required for the safety barriers on the Cumberland River is in the best interest of public safety and the American taxpayer.

The senator, who is the senior Republican on the Senate committee overseeing Corps funding, also said that he “wanted to know exactly where the $2.6 million that the Corps plans to use to erect physical barriers is coming from during these tight budget times.”
 
Sen. Alexander was joined at Thursday’s event by Ed Carter, executive director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and Mike Butler, CEO of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation.

Mr. Carter told the gathering, “These are extremely important waters for economic and recreational reasons, and there are alternative ways to address the safety issues for boating anglers.”
 
Mr. Butler said, “These are public waters, owned by the citizens and held in trust by the state, and they offer some of the best fishing to be found anywhere. The notion of completely banning boats from our world-class tailwater fisheries without any public input is alarming, and the statistics show that fishing below the dams is exceedingly safe.”

Two weeks ago, Sen. Alexander and Reps. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) and Jim Cooper (D-Tn.) met at the U.S. Capitol with Maj. General Michael Walsh of the Corps to press their concerns about the Corps plan. Earlier Alexander had met with Lt. Col. James DeLapp, Commander of the Nashville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The senator said he has requested a meeting with the Assistant Secretary of the Army to press his case that “there are more reasonable ways to achieve both the goals of public safety and allowing taxpayers to enjoy these good fishing opportunities.”   

Sen. Alexander pointed out that the Tennessee Valley Authority achieves its safety goals without using physical barriers to restrict fishing access to tailwaters below its dams, instead using warning signs, strobe lights and horns at 22 of its 31 dams to warn of times when water will spill through the dams.

 


Outdoor Chattanooga News And Events

Here are upcoming news and events from Outdoor Chattanooga: Outdoor Chattanooga Featured Event Winter Workshop:  Jan. 29  - Fire by Friction Learn about tools and techniques for starting a fire with a bowdrill, or flint and steel at our next free  Winter Workshop , happening this  Thurs., Jan. 29, 6:30 p.m.  at Outdoor ... (click for more)

Cedars Of Lebanon State Park Receives Excellence In Innovation Award

Cedars of Lebanon State Park received the West Tennessee Excellence in Innovation Award at the 2015 Tennessee State Parks Management meeting last Wednesday.   Parks nominated for this award have demonstrated the ability to think outside the box to create new ideas for enhancement or improvement at their park. The innovative project must be long lasting or far reaching. ... (click for more)

State Attorney General Rules Against Erlanger On Closed Meeting Where Management Bonuses Were Discussed

The state attorney general's office has ruled that, under a section of the state Sunshine Law, that the board of a public hospital is not allowed to meet privately to discuss employee bonuses. The Erlanger Health System board recently discussed $1.7 million in management bonuses during a closed-door session. The board then approved the controversial bonuses without discussion ... (click for more)

Chief Fletcher Gives Maximum Punishment To Officer Who Fired At Vehicle That Backed Toward Him; Attorney Vows To Fight To Reverse Decision

Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher has given a maximum punishment to an officer who fired four shots toward a vehicle after he said the driver backed into his vehicle with him standing behind it. Chief Fletcher sustained a finding of “improper use of force – discharge of firearm.” He suspended Officer Alex Olson for 30 days without pay – the maximum suspension allowed ... (click for more)

Shelley Andrews Will Be Missed - And Response

Shelley Andrews was one of the kindest, most thoughtful and most effective laborers in our community.  Her work with the Friends of Moccasin Bend was exemplary.  She listened, she learned and she led with dignity and class. Her brave battle with ovarian cancer was a testament to her positive spirit and commitment to her work on behalf of the people of this region. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Magic Bank Account

As the month of January is almost out the door, I am opening my email today to share a marvelous story that legend has it was printed on piece of paper found in Bear Bryant’s wallet when he died in 1983. While I don’t know that the famed Alabama football coach had this lesson in his wallet, chances are he might have if he’d read it. * * * THE BANK ACCOUNT & RULES Imagine ... (click for more)